BEMIDJI -- If you haven’t paid close attention to the Bemidji State women’s hockey team, you may think that last year’s leading goal-scorer, forward Clair DeGeorge, had either graduated and moved on from college hockey or returned to the Beavers for her fifth year.

You’d be wrong on both counts. DeGeorge transferred to Ohio State and will now face BSU as a key member of the No. 2 Buckeyes this weekend.

Why did she depart? Not just for the reason you might think.

“She wanted to be a nurse anesthetist, (that's) her goal,” head coach Jim Scanlan said. “Obviously, Ohio State has a hospital right on campus, and there's things they can offer academically that Bemidji State can't. And obviously, they have an outstanding team. And I'm sure that factored in as well, having an opportunity to play on a real good team for one last year.”

Since arriving in Columbus, Ohio, DeGeorge has thrived with the Buckeyes (4-0). She’s second on OSU with three goals and is tied for third with five total points.

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DeGeorge is indisputably a great player, but she was also an integral part of the fabric of BSU’s team culture, serving as one of the team’s two captains in 2020-21. Seeing her in scarlet and gray will be an odd occasion for the Beavers (1-1).

“It's going to be kind of weird, to be honest, to see her in a different sweater and a different number. But once the puck drops, none of that will matter,” Scanlan said. “We just got to go on about playing our game. We know she's an outstanding player. She was an outstanding player for us for four years, and a great ambassador for our program. The things she accomplished both on and off the ice was just outstanding.”

It may be weird, but it could also be enjoyable. Reuniting with a program stalwart doesn’t have to be all business and bitterness, after all.

"That'll be fun,” fifth-year forward Lindsey Featherstone said. “Obviously she was in my class, and so we're all still super close with her, and we're really happy for her and her opportunity there in Ohio. But yeah, it'll be fun to just kind of go up against her and also just to see her.”

Bemidji State's Graysen Myers (23) makes a drive with the puck against Ohio State in a 2019 game at the Sanford Center. (Pioneer file photo)
Bemidji State's Graysen Myers (23) makes a drive with the puck against Ohio State in a 2019 game at the Sanford Center. (Pioneer file photo)

DeGeorge isn’t the only scoring threat for Ohio State. The Buckeyes have posted 18 goals in four games, all wins by a margin of at least two goals. Jenna Buglioni leads OSU with four goals, DeGeorge is second with three, and three Buckeyes have two goals. Five other players have scored one.

When facing this dynamic attack, as well as a defense that has conceded only four goals and posted one shutout, Bemidji State will have to execute as a team to walk out of Columbus victorious.

“It'll be really important that forwards are coming back, so that our (defense) can step up and then push on those entries coming into the zone,” Featherstone said. “But I also just think being really good on our end, not running around, kind of knowing your position, knowing your goal.

“And I also think getting a lot of blocked shots would be huge. We were really good at that last year, and we definitely struggled with that against St. Thomas. I think we only had four or five blocked shots, which is unheard of in the four years I've been here. We're more like a 20-plus blocked shots (team). So I think that'll be really big, because yeah, they're fast, they're big, they have some natural goal scorers.”

The series commences at 5:01 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 15, and concludes at 2:01 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 16.